Sunday, September 9, 2007

No Love for Charter

I used to totally dig my cable company -- Charter.  They were one of the few companies I dealt with that happened to be completely competent, and I would rave about them to anyone who asked.

This may have been because they had me on a "special promotion" price that was supposed to last for six months, but carried it on indefinitely.  I must have had at least three years at that price.  Since then, I've been pretty much flitting from promotion to promotion.

Recently, my promotional price expired.  I wanted to switch to the promotional price for fewer services, seeing as my previous promotion had been for all the premium pay channels, and I really only watched HBO.  So I wanted to switch to the promotion for just one pay channel.

They said I wouldn't be eligible for that promotion for another six months.

I responded by cancelling HBO.

Six months later, I called and asked for the promotion, and was given some bizarre song and dance about how I wasn't eligible for the promotion because I wasn't currently on a promotion.  I whined a bit about how this was the exact opposite of what I'd been told, and ended up with a promotional price for all the services I currently had.  (Still no HBO.)

My cable bill was about $112 per month.  That's for extended basic cable, the "family tier" (which gives me stuff like Disney and BBC America), a DVR, a second cable box, and (perhaps most importantly) my cable modem, at 3M speeds.  (Although I'm on a 5M free preview through January.)

My recent bill shot up to $125.

I called and asked why.  They said my promotion expired September 5, and I should call back around September 5 and re-enroll in the promotion.  This was about a week before that date, and I inquired why I couldn't just re-enroll then.  The customer service rep was adamant that I call back closer to September 5.

I called back yesterday.  I was watching TV, paying bills.  I'd been pausing TV a lot, so had about 45 minutes of unwatched program left in the DVR's buffer, and, additionally, was recording a program on another channel.  I paused the TV and called Charter.

The Charter rep said I wasn't eligible to continue the promotion I had (of course not) but that I could get a new promotion if I added a service.  She suggested I change my cable modem from 3M to 5M.  I pointed out that I'm getting the 5M free preview anyway, so exactly where is this good for me?  She said I'd get exactly the same services for a lower price.

I asked how low.  She said the package was $80.

This was too low.  I asked, "what about my DVR?"  "What about my second cable box?"

She said the price applies no matter how many boxes I have.

I tried again.  I said that I'm currently paying Charter to rent the DVR and the second cable box, and I'd like to know how much it my final bill would be under the new plan.  She says the plan would give me a discounted rate on the DVR rental too, so that this would only be $5.

I ask, pretty specifically, for her to tell me exactly what my new bill will be under this new plan.  Including everything.  She says $89.  I repeat this, just because I want to be perfectly clear.  I say something like, "If you do this and my bill is more than $89, I'm going to be really pissed off."  She assures me that it will be $89.  I tell her to go ahead and do it.

She puts me on hold "for two minutes" to make the change.

I return to watching TV.  About two minutes later, my TV screen goes blank and posts a message that this cable box is no longer authorized.  I've now lost the 45 minutes of TV that was in the buffer, and it has stopped recording the show it had been recording on the other channel.  I'm pretty ticked about this.  I check my other cable box, and that one is out too.  I'm thinking that maybe I should have been alerted that she was going to turn my TV off.  I could have at least saved the 45 minutes that was in the buffer -- and maybe done this change after the show I was recording had been recorded.

I am on hold an insanely long time, like 15 minutes.  During this time, I prepare to be annoyed and chide the idiot that she really ought to tell people before she turns off their TVs.

She comes back on (although my TV doesn't) and tells me she's made the changes and now my cable bill will be $105.

I can't decide what to be more pissed off about first.

I go with price, and point out that we just had a conversation where various $89 promises had been made.  I then point out that she should tell people when she's going to turn off their televisions.

She tells me that (wait for it) she didn't turn off my television.

Riiiiight.  The black screen and the "this unit is not authorized" message is a figment of my imagination.  She tells me, quite huffily, that she did not turn off my TV at all, and that she, in fact, has to go ahead and shut off my box for two minutes to "renew" it, and do I mind if she does this.

I repeat that the damn thing is off, and that she should have told me, and go ahead and refresh it, and then put your supervisor on the line.

I am put back on hold.  A lot of time passes.

During the time my TV comes back on.  My DVR features, however, have been disabled.  It won't go back to recording the show it had been recording when it had been so rudely interrupted; I can't set it to record anything else; it won't even list what has already been recorded.  I get a message about DVR features not being enabled on this box.

The supervisor comes on and rapidly spews out something about how she understands I'd been promised a promotional price of $89 and that this is going to be forwarded to the rep's actual supervisor and she'll be reprimanded and sorry about that, and the package is actually $99.

I say that, yes, while I'm annoyed about that, my first area of concern is getting my DVR back, please. 

Supervisor says, "Oh, you had a DVR, too?  That's not eligible for the $99 price."

Smoke comes out of my ears.  I tell her I had specifically asked the previous rep about the DVR, and she'd assured me it was.  Supervisor claims to go off to research promotional prices including DVRs.  I reckon she is, in fact, going back to listen to the tape of my conversation with the rep.

She comes back on and offers me a $99 price for exactly what I have now.  "Only the modem will be 3M rather than 5M."  I ask about the 5M "free preview" I'm supposed to be on through January.  "Oh yes, you'll still get that."

Well then, $99 seems like a good deal -- or, at least, a good deal compared to the $125 of my current bill.

She does that.  She gets back on the line.

She asks if there's anything else she can do to help me.  I suggest that maybe turning my DVR back on would be a step in the right direction.  She says it will take about ten minutes, and goes into her "have a nice day" speech.  I tell her to stay on the line until I've confirmed the DVR is back on.

She goes off again.  About three minutes later, DVR service returns.  She assures me the price will now be $99, and offers me a $25 credit for the mix up in the price. 

I have been on the phone with these morons for over 53 minutes.

1 comment:

hewasolddog299 said...

Gee, I wonder if DirecTV is taking lessons from Charter lately... sounds like the same sort of runaround they gave me not too long ago over a nationally advertised combo price with Verizon... except they at least were willing to give you service. Not so with DirecTV / Verizon.